Active Traction Force Response to Long-Term Cyclic Stretch Is Dependent on Cell Pre-stress.
ABSTRACT: Mechanical stimulation is recognized as a potent modulator of cellular behaviors such as proliferation, differentiation, and extracellular matrix assembly. However, the study of how cell-generated traction force changes in response to stretch is generally limited to short-term stimulation. The goal of this work is to determine how cells actively alter their traction force in response to long-term physiological cyclic stretch as a function of cell pre-stress. We have developed, to our knowledge, a novel method to assess traction force after long-term (24 h) uniaxial or biaxial cyclic stretch under conditions of high cell pre-stress with culture on stiff (7.5 kPa) polyacrylamide gels (with or without transforming growth factor ?1 (TGF-?1)) and low pre-stress by treating with blebbistatin or culture on soft gels (0.6 kPa). In response to equibiaxial stretch, valvular interstitial cells on stiff substrates decreased their traction force (from 300 nN to 100 nN) and spread area (from 3000 to 2100 ?m(2)). With uniaxial stretch, the cells had similar decreases in traction force and area and reoriented perpendicular to the stretch. TGF-?1-treated valvular interstitial cells had higher pre-stress (1100 nN) and exhibited a larger drop in traction force with uniaxial stretch, but the percentage changes in force and area with stretch were similar to the non-TGF-?1-treated group. Cells with inhibited myosin II motors increased traction force (from 41 nN to 63 nN) and slightly reoriented toward the stretch direction. In contrast, cells cultured on soft gels increased their traction force significantly, from 15 nN to 45 nN, doubled their spread area, elongated from an initially rounded morphology, and reoriented perpendicular to the uniaxial stretch. Contractile-moment measurements provided results consistent with total traction force measurements. The combined results indicate that the change in traction force in response to external cyclic stretch is dependent upon the initial cell pre-stress. This finding is consistent with depolymerization of initially high-tension actin stress fibers, and reinforcement of an initially low-tension actin cytoskeleton.
Project description:Introduction:Continuous development of cell traction force can regulate cell migration on various extracellular matrixes in vivo. However, the topographical effect on traction force is still not fully understood. Methods:Micropost sensors with parallel guiding gratings were fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane to track the cell traction force during topographical guidance in real time. The force distributions along MC3T3-E1 mouse osteoblasts were captured every minute. The traction force in the leading, middle, and trailing regions was monitored during forward and reversed cell migration. Results:The traction force showed periodic changes during cell migration when the cell changed from elongated to contracted shape. For cell migration without guiding pattern, the leading region showed the largest traction force among the three regions, typically 5.8 ± 0.8 nanonewton (nN) when the cell contracted and 7.1 ± 0.5 nN when it elongated. During guided cell migration, a lower traction force was obtained. When a cell contracted, the trailing traction force was 4.1 ± 0.4 for non-guided migration and 2.2 ± 0.2 nN for guided migration. As a cell became elongated, the trailing traction force was 6.0 ± 0.5 nN during non-guided migration and 4.8 ± 0.3 nN under guidance. When a cell reversed its migration direction, the magnitudes of the traction force from the leading to the trailing regions also flipped. Conclusion:The cell traction force is continuously influenced by topographical guidance, which determines cell migration speed and direction. These results of cell traction force development on various topographies could lead to better cell migration control using topotaxis.
Project description:Despite the importance of a cell's ability to sense and respond to mechanical force, the molecular mechanisms by which physical cues are converted to cell-instructive chemical information to influence cell behaviors remain to be elucidated. Exposure of cultured fibroblasts to uniaxial cyclic stretch results in an actin stress fiber reinforcement response that stabilizes the actin cytoskeleton. p38 MAPK signaling is activated in response to stretch, and inhibition of p38 MAPK abrogates stretch-induced cytoskeletal reorganization. Here we show that the small heat shock protein HspB1 (hsp25/27) is phosphorylated in stretch-stimulated mouse fibroblasts via a p38 MAPK-dependent mechanism. Phosphorylated HspB1 is recruited to the actin cytoskeleton, displaying prominent accumulation on actin "comet tails" that emanate from focal adhesions in stretch-stimulated cells. Site-directed mutagenesis to block HspB1 phosphorylation inhibits the protein's cytoskeletal recruitment in response to mechanical stimulation. HspB1-null cells, generated by CRISPR/Cas9 nuclease genome editing, display an abrogated stretch-stimulated actin reinforcement response and increased cell migration. HspB1 is recruited to sites of increased traction force in cells geometrically constrained on micropatterned substrates. Our findings elucidate a molecular pathway by which a mechanical signal is transduced via activation of p38 MAPK to influence actin remodeling and cell migration via a zyxin-independent process.
Project description:Introduction:The mechanical response of large multi-cellular collectives to external stretch has remained largely unexplored, despite its relevance to normal function and to external challenges faced by some tissues. Here, we introduced a simple hybrid silicone substrate to enable external stretch while providing a physiologically relevant physical micro-environment for cells. Methods:We micropatterned epithelial islands on the substrate using a stencil to allow for a circular island shape without restraining island edges. We then used traction force microscopy to determine the strain energy and the inter-cellular sheet tension within the island as a function of time after stretch. Results:While the strain energy stored in the substrate for unstretched cell islands stayed constant over time, a uniaxial 10% stretch resulted in an abrupt increase, followed by sustained increase in the strain energy of the islands over tens of minutes, indicating slower dynamics than for single cells reported previously. The sheet tension at the island mid-line perpendicular to the stretch direction also more than doubled compared to unstretched islands. Interestingly, the sheet tension at the island mid-line parallel to the stretch direction also reached similar levels over tens of minutes indicating the tendency of the island to homogenize its internal stress. Conclusions:We found that the sheet tension within large epithelial islands depends on its direction relative to that of the stretch initially, but not at longer times. We suggest that the hybrid silicone substrate provides for an accessible substrate for studying the mechanobiology of large epithelial cell islands.
Project description:Uniaxial stretch is an important biophysical regulator of cell morphology (or shape) and functions of vascular endothelial cells (ECs). However, it is unclear whether and how cell shape can independently regulate EC mechanotransductive properties under uniaxial stretch. Herein, utilizing a novel uniaxial cell-stretching device integrated with micropost force sensors, we reported the first experimental evidence showing cell shape-dependent EC mechanotransduction via cytoskeleton (CSK) contractile forces in response to uniaxial stretch. Combining experiments and theoretical modeling from first principles, we showed that it was the global architecture of the F-actin CSK that instructed the cell shape-dependent EC mechanotransductive process. Furthermore, a cell shape-dependent nature was relayed in EC mechanotransduction via dynamic focal adhesion (FA) assembly. Our results suggested a novel mechanotransductive process in ECs wherein the global architecture of the F-actin CSK, governed by cell shape, controls mechanotransduction via CSK contractile forces and force-dependent FA assembly under uniaxial stretch.
Project description:Many essential cellular processes are regulated by mechanical properties of their microenvironment. Here, we introduce stimuli-responsive composite scaffolds fabricated by three-dimensional (3D) laser lithography to simultaneously stretch large numbers of single cells in tailored 3D microenvironments. The key material is a stimuli-responsive photoresist containing cross-links formed by noncovalent, directional interactions between ?-cyclodextrin (host) and adamantane (guest). This allows reversible actuation under physiological conditions by application of soluble competitive guests. Cells adhering in these scaffolds build up initial traction forces of ~80 nN. After application of an equibiaxial stretch of up to 25%, cells remodel their actin cytoskeleton, double their traction forces, and equilibrate at a new dynamic set point within 30 min. When the stretch is released, traction forces gradually decrease until the initial set point is retrieved. Pharmacological inhibition or knockout of nonmuscle myosin 2A prevents these adjustments, suggesting that cellular tensional homeostasis strongly depends on functional myosin motors.
Project description:The goal of this study was to evaluate if isolated sarcomeres and half-sarcomeres produce a long-lasting increase in force after a stretch is imposed during activation. Single and half-sarcomeres were isolated from myofibrils using micro-needles, which were also used for force measurements. After full force development, both preparations were stretched by different magnitudes. The sarcomere length (SL) or half-sarcomere length variations (HSL) were extracted by measuring the initial and final distances from the Z-line to the adjacent Z-line or to a region externally adjacent to the M-line of the sarcomere, respectively. Half-sarcomeres generated approximately the same amount of isometric force (29.0 ± SD 15.5?nN·?m(-2)) as single sarcomeres (32.1 ± SD 15.3?nN·?m(-2)) when activated. In both cases, the steady-state forces after stretch were higher than the forces during isometric contractions at similar conditions. The results suggest that stretch-induced force enhancement is partly caused by proteins within the half-sarcomere.
Project description:A minimal model of cellular mechanosensing system that consists of a single stress fiber adhering on a substrate via two focal adhesions made of catch bonds is adopted to investigate the phenomena of cell reorientation on substrates induced by an applied uniaxial cyclic stretch. The model indicates that the catch bonds in the focal adhesions experience a periodically oscillating internal force with amplitude and frequency controlled by two intrinsic clocks of the stress fiber, one associated with localized activation and the other with homogeneous activation of sarcomere units along the stress fiber. It is shown that this oscillating force due to cyclic stretch tends to destabilize focal adhesions by reducing the lifetime of catch bonds. The resulting slide or relocation of focal adhesions then causes the associated stress fiber to shorten and rotate to configurations nearly perpendicular to the stretching direction. These predicted behaviors from our model are consistent with a wide range of experimental observations.
Project description:Recognition of external mechanical signals is vital for mammalian cells. Cyclic stretch, e.g. around blood vessels, is one such signal that induces cell reorientation from parallel to almost perpendicular to the direction of stretch. Here, we present quantitative analyses of both, cell and cytoskeletal reorientation of umbilical cord fibroblasts. Cyclic strain of preset amplitudes was applied at mHz frequencies. Elastomeric chambers were specifically designed and characterized to distinguish between zero strain and minimal stress directions and to allow accurate theoretical modeling. Reorientation was only induced when the applied stretch exceeded a specific amplitude, suggesting a non-linear response. However, on very soft substrates no mechanoresponse occurs even for high strain. For all stretch amplitudes, the angular distributions of reoriented cells are in very good agreement with a theory modeling stretched cells as active force dipoles. Cyclic stretch increases the number of stress fibers and the coupling to adhesions. We show that changes in cell shape follow cytoskeletal reorientation with a significant temporal delay. Our data identify the importance of environmental stiffness for cell reorientation, here in direction of zero strain. These in vitro experiments on cultured cells argue for the necessity of rather stiff environmental conditions to induce cellular reorientation in mammalian tissues.
Project description:In this study we present a novel method for studying cellular traction force generation and mechanotransduction in the context of cardiac development. Rat hearts from three distinct stage of development (fetal, neonatal and adult) were isolated, decellularized and characterized via mechanical testing and protein compositional analysis. Stiffness increased ~2-fold between fetal and neonatal time points but not between neonatal and adult. Composition of structural extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins was significantly different between all three developmental ages. ECM that was solubilized via pepsin digestion was cross-linked into polyacrylamide gels of varying stiffness and traction force microscopy was used to assess the ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to generate traction stress against the substrates. The response to increasing stiffness was significantly different depending on the developmental age of the ECM. An investigation into early cardiac differentiation of MSCs demonstrated a dependence of the level of expression of early cardiac transcription factors on the composition of the complex ECM. In summary, this study found that complex ECM composition plays an important role in modulating a cell's ability to generate traction stress against a substrate, which is a significant component of mechanotransductive signaling.
Project description:Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death. However, most of the researches were based on the traditional cell-culturing method. Whereas cells of lung are subjected to the mechanical forces periodically while breathing. In the present study, we applied cyclic stretch to stimulate the continuously contracting physical condition. We uncovered the stretching force-induced phosphoproteome in lung cancer cell A549 and fibroblast IMR-90. 2048 and 2604 phosphosites corresponding to 837 and 1008 phosphoproteins were identified in A549 and IMR-90, respectively. Interestingly, cytoskeleton reorganization and mitochondrial localization were enriched in the significantly expressed phosphoproteins in response to cyclic stretch. Indeed, we found this physical stress changed cell alignment thus disrupted mitochondrial dynamics. We proved that mitochondrial fusion is induced by uniaxial stretch in 2 cell lines. This study reveals the molecular mechanism of cyclic stretch and supports that stretching force enhanced cellular rearrangement and mitochondrial fusion in lung cells.